Friday, 19 October 2012

Killer Colours nail polish - A review of two halves!

Usually when I don't review something for a bit, there's something I'm not happy with and I need to make absolutely sure that I'm not going to give off a false impression.  I feel like with all the PR samples flying around on blogs these days, my integrity is everything - which is one of the reasons I don't accept pre-written paid content on here, and the reason why I'm always honest about things.  This review reflects that, because the launch date was actually the beginning of September - but I can't review something accurately without being absolutely sure - and that's why I waited.

Killer Colours' unique selling point is that they are at the cutting edge of fashion trends, releasing only small, curated  and limited edition collections of colours inspired by the catwalk - and once they're gone, that's it.  My interest was piqued by this because it's not something I've seen done in an overt fashion - beauty brands tend to mirror what's hot, but not as their mission statement.  I was sent two polishes to try out - and one was really great.  And one was just… not so much.

Gunmetal. Actually, it looks way more true in the colour than in my swatch! I apologise for the smudges, I'm no manicurist.
Gunmetal* is a colour I didn't expect.  I was expecting a deep-hued grey, but it turned out to be a black with silver micro-shimmers in it, the colour inspired by the pewter greys seen Burberry, McQueen and Chanel.  I love the colour, because it's black without being too black, which tends to leech life from my fingers and make me look even paler than it should be possible to be.  The opacity and intensity of colour on this was excellent - and it was good in one coat, although I always apply 3 because I'm stubborn.  Wear time was good, chips minimal and all in all this was a decent polish - one that I think will get loads of wear throughout autumn and winter because I love those smudgy greys.

Twisted Silk.  4 coats and still not opaque for me :(
Twisted Silk* was a huge let-down for me.  Other bloggers seem to have had luck with this shade but from the first coat for me, this was streaky and messy and the resulting 4 coats made my nails look all thick and bubbly and just awful.  This chalky pink was inspired by Jil Sander, but I feel like this polish wasn't executed very well, unfortunately.  I was interested to try a light, pale shade from this brand because I feel like pastels are very difficult to do well, and I wanted to review a range of colours that would be evocative of the quality.  Unfortunately this polish really let me down, but the colour was pretty (even if my gym coach said I had Pepto Bismol hands - I had to remind him it's fashion, darling).

All polishes from Killer Colours are free from the Big 3 chemicals - toluene, DPB and formaldehyde and are manufactured in the UK, and the brushes are not too big and easy to use, although the square lid is chunky and a bit awkward to grip.  They cost £9 - which I feel is on the pricey side - but the P&P is free, so if you see a colour you like then maybe it might be worth your while grabbing it, because these are limited edition to the biggest degree, and once they're gone, that's it.

All in all, I'm curious to see what Killer Colours have in store for next season and how their plan to keep up with fashion pans out - but it's been an experience of 2 halves for me.

Are chemical-free polishes important to you, or is it all about shade?

* PR samples. Both of these were sent for review, and this is my honest opinion!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Beauty-medicating: How to survive a cold with beauty.

A cold hit two weeks ago. I'm the first person to whine about a cold, and to be fair, this one was quite a doozy.  My throat felt hot and sore like I was trying to swallow cold tar and I had this horrible fuzziness as though I was hearing everything through cotton wool with a fever that left me in various states of undress and overdress through the 2 whole weeks I was plague-ridden.

A cold can make you feel particularly shitty, because you're not ill enough to stay home from work, but not well enough to feel present - and not to mention the constant nose-blowing and people avoiding you and wearing those SARS face masks to filter out your gross germs.  I always feel the need to pamper a bit when I'm feeling nasty, so here are my 4 products to make me feel a little bit sunnier when I'm feeling under the weather.

1. The home spa: Emma Hardie Moringa balm.

When I'm tired or poorly, there's something so comforting about using Emma Hardie's Moringa Balm to cleanse my face off in the evening with a lovely hot flannel to soothe my achey head and a beautiful, decadent feel that doesn't strip my skin bare of the moisture it's desperately trying to grab onto.  I love Emma Hardie's Moringa balm because it's oily and luxurious, but emulsifies into a thick fragrant cream, and when coupled with a hot flannel it just feels blissful and I can kind of feel my whole body stop for a second and relax.

2. Rehydrate: Origins Drink Up Intensive.

My skin feels so withered and worn when I've got a cold and I want to smother everything all over it at once and restore its usual balance and bit of glow.  Origins Drink Up Intensive is a non-oily feeling overnight mask that smells zingy and refreshing and makes me a little more cheerful, mainly because it's one of the only products I own that I can smell when I can't smell anything else.  I love to apply this after cleansing off my makeup and just leave it on to do its job while I sleep, because no effort skin care is my favourite kind of thing when all I want to do is sit in a blanket, accept copious cups of tea made by Kiwi and mope, and it leaves my skin soft and lovely the next day.

3. Moisturise: Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream.*

This has a lovely warm, spicy scent to it and it's a thick, luxurious cream to apply just before going to bed.  I love to massage this in properly and make my skin feel like it's getting a treat, because this is just thick and emollient.  It contains manuka honey and avocado oil, and is seriously moisturising - and also it's supposed to help collagen production while you sleep, so plump, moisturised skin in the morning is a lovely thing to wake up to when you feel shrivelled like a prune.

4. Delicate lips: Nuxe Rêve de Miel balm.

This feels like nourishment in a pot on my chapped lips.  Continually having to blow my horribly red-as-a-postbox nose leaves my nose and lips feeling a little raw - mainly because - well who buys expensive tissues?! Tesco Value tissues all the way.  So anyway - a bad cold always gives me such a sore nose and lips, and this is beautifully thick and non-greasy and moisturising on my poor little sore features without containing weird ingredients like menthol (like Carmex) that burn to the max.  Rêve de Miel is reassuringly thick and lovely, and contains honey and shea butter to help soothe my chapped lips and sore nose - it's a bit expensive for a glorified lip balm - but I adore this.

 Sometimes you just need some seriously luxurious beauty products that will give you that pick me up - and for most people, that's a bath when they're ill! I HATE baths, because I can only sit in them for 10 minutes and then my fingers get wrinkly, I overheat and need to get out and then lie on the floor pathetically.  So for me - it's all about hot face cloths and a lot of balm products.

What's your beauty illness survival strategy?

* PR SAMPLE - all opinions are my own and I'm always honest.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The shopping edit: September.

September is going to bitchslap me, slam me into a wall and give me a dead arm - it's going to be a bit of a tough month.  I'm finding my way back to shopping, oh-so-very-slowly.  Over the course of the summer, I was so disinterested in everything, apart from buying useless but cute ceramic jars for the house, putting together flatpack furniture, disassembling and repacking flatpack furniture after discovering it was faulty, and ranting at customer services.  Apparently there wasn't much time for makeup in all that kerfuffle.

I just... wasn't interested.  I'm guessing it's because I didn't have the internet, and couldn't drool over endless hauls of beautiful things, but nothing interested me - that is, until a small package from across the pond dropped through my door. It contained a Burberry eyeshadow, and begged me to enjoy it.  And so I did - and then felt myself wanting to run screaming to the shops and buy everything, all at once, forever.

Since easing myself back into the OMGMUSTHAVE kind of existence (and I do it very well), I've been compiling lists upon lists in an idle fashion, and then crossing stuff out and putting it back on.  In all my indecisiveness, here are the 4 things I settled on for this month's shopping list, and what beauties they are indeed!

Click on the image of the product to take you to their website! I don't use affiliate links, so click without fear :)

Unii Palette.

MAC bores me. Their palettes are ugly, and I don't even care for my MAC shadows anymore. For all of my other little depots that need rehoming after my upcoming purge of MAC from my makeup collection, I think one of these in a saccharine-sweet colour will sweeten the deal - so cute and practical with a mirror and a pre-magnetised base. Perfect for travel, and look much sturdier than MAC's palettes, too!

Burberry Sheer Eye Shadows.

Ah, and now we come to the reason behind the MAC purge.  Recently my friend Panties over at The Black Panties blog (click it, she has the most amazing taste in high-end makeup), took it upon her lovely self to send me a gift, my very first eyeshadow from Burberry.  And what a beauty.  These babies are so soft and pigmented without being chalky or powdery and I feel like I don't really care for anything else but these.  These are done to perfection, and I'm hoping for a couple more.  On my list? Well I kind of want all of them.  Right now I'm leaning towards Pale Barley and Pearl Grey. And Mulberry. And all the other ones.


This is kind of the new buzzword in skin care right now.  When Caroline Hirons gives something a rave, you sit up and take notice.  This is supposed to make the skin super-soft, glowy and plump, giving an instantaneous feeling of moisture.  I haven't taken much notice of products from this brand yet, but this could be the one to sway me - anything with plump or super-soft and I'm there, basically, massaging it enthusiastically into my grey never-seen-the-light-of-day skin.

Armani Maestro Foundation.

Small confession - I was so horrendously excited about this product launching that I've bought it already. AND *cough* I paid for express shipping. It arrives tomorrow, and I just can't wait to try it out for the first time.  This is apparently a revolutionary formula that contains oils, lasts all day and looks like skin.  Seeing as increasingly I'm seeing my foundation in the harsh light of day and can see the swirl marks where I didn't manage to blend properly, or the bits where it has stuck to dry skin, this just sounds amazing. It's a liquid texture packaged with a pipette, and when I tested it at the counter, it spread slickly over the skin, I just can't wait to see what it's like on my face!

I can't wait to squeal over my little Armani purchase that arrives tomorrow!

Are you waiting on anything exciting? What's your shopping list for this month?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

JolieBox August.

I'm going to have to apologise for doing an army-roll get-in-get-out kind of review here, and for the fashionably late nature of it, because I've spent my week in the not-as-musty-as-you'd-think British Library, chained to a desk next to that one person who accidentally left their mobile on loud/sniffs continuously/has a bothersome cough.  I'm exhausted, and behind on my little blogging schedule.

This month's JolieBox* was the prettiest one to date, and I think perhaps a few people that received it might agree with me that the box was a little more exciting than the contents.  I love that JolieBox make an extra effort to make gorgeous little boxes to package their samples in, but with a box this pretty, I was a bit underwhelmed with this month's offering.

Sorry about the sucky lighting of this photo - one of my lights cacked out on me and I'm yet to order another!

The contents this month, then:

Phil Smith Dry Clean Revitalising Dry Shampoo

I actually never, ever use dry shampoo, and my current stash in my drawer is actually because of beauty boxes. I did test this out before I went to some morning sessions for my induction at the gym (don't laugh), because my hair is super-fine and I didn't want my hair to look so flat that I looked like an egg - because I can still have my pride, even when at the gym. This worked pretty well and has an inoffensive scent. My hair was soft and it brushed out easily. Even so, I just don't like dry shampoo.

So Susan Cosmetics Lip Cushion

I'd never heard of this brand before it arrived in this month's installment. The creator is the same who created Jelly Pong Pong, Susan Chyi. Honestly? This feels like something I'd pick up in Claire's Accessories. It's a thick, Calpol-scented (that's not a bad thing, it smells great!) glittery lip balm, which looks like it's pink but offers no pigmentation. The best things I can say about this are that it smells like Calpol, and it's not sticky at all.

So Susan Cosmetics Wide Awake Face Palette

I perked up when seeing this palette, but again I feel a bit let down by this. It contains a highlighting cream and an illuminating cream (I actually had to read the back to figure out what the difference between the two was and what their purposes were), and then 3 brow colours, some tweezers and a brush. Two of 3 of the eyebrow colours contain shimmer, which leaves me completely baffled, seeing as I didn't realise glittery eyebrows were on trend (barf, I hate using that phrase!). I like that there were tweezers involved in this kit, and it seems like a good idea but my initial excitement faded quite quickly, unfortunately.

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap

I was actually excited to receive these and am really looking forward to trying them out, believe it or not! I'm really pleased to have received these, but I would have preferred a small bottle of one scent (like I think I remember Glossybox doing once), than some sachets which will leak and dribble everywhere! I've been toying with buying a small bottle of this for a while, so of all the things to please me from this box... It was unexpectedly some soap.

JolieBox Leather Hair Styling Lace

This is apparently a bonus product. Um. I really can't say much about this, because I just don't get it. I keep seeing the beauty box brands trying to branch out into their own product lines, but I feel like it kind of comes off a little cheap. In any event, I'd never use this for myself because this is so far from my style.


Well, I have to say it. I'm disappointed. The makeup items left me a little sad, because there were 2 of them and both weren't anything I'd be able to use, plus I prefer a mix of brands. I am excited about the Dr. Bronner soap, and the dry shampoo wasn't too bad at all - but suffice to say this box was a real mixed bag for me and I did feel a stab of disappointment.

What are your thoughts on this month's box?

* PR Sample.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Two perfect reds: Beauté

Sometimes you just know you're onto a perfect thing.  Beauté really know their reds and I kind of don't want to go anywhere else ever again.  I know - I talk about red lipstick all the time - two-steps-ahead continually bouncing around all over the place and onto-the-next-one kind of thing.  I can rhapsodise about all these different nuances and textures, and which ones make me walk tall swinging my hair, and which ones leave me trampy and trouty-mouthed.

L-R: Masochist, Fever.

Beauté is one of those companies who have slowly-very-slowly come into the periphery of my consciousness.  It started with a retina-scarring neon pinky stain called Flouron, which was totally beautiful and lives in my handbag in case of that emergency looking a bit pale feeling, in which case I dab a little on my cheeks and I look less like I'm about to pass out and people stop offering me a seat on the Tube.

It was inevitable that I was going to home in on the reds after that, really, but I think it took me about 2 years in the end to muster up the courage to put them in my basket and actually pay for them (apparently that last step of putting in my card information is just so arduous).  Masochist was the first, and the name suits.  It's fierce (not in the Tyra way, she has completely ruined that word for EVERYONE), and bitchy and needs some spike heels and a leather jacket.  Or just wear it with a hoodie and open the door to the postman wearing it, which is what I usually do, the postman is long past being scared anymore.  It's an opaque lip crème in a 'Helmut Newton red', and lasts exceptionally well considering it's of the creamy-slidey (this sounds rude, but I'm leaving it in), texture.

Beauté Masochist.

If you found that Chanel Dragon made you look like a bit of an old crack whore due because it sinks into your INVISIBLE LIP LINES THAT SHOULDN'T BE THERE and makes your lips age about 20 years in one fell swoop, then this is the thing you want.  You're welcome.

Beauté's Fever is the one that I'm all over though.  I call this my Snow White on a good day (you know, when she wasn't doing the housework for the seven dwarves or sleeping in a glass display coffin), because it's dark and cherry-syrupy and plays off against my Tippex-coloured complexion and dark hair.  With this, I feel pretty, but in a POW! SNEAK ATTACK kind of way.  This lasts pretty much all day, and boy does it stain.  I pretty much would never use this on my cheeks, as it would look like I've been clobbered with a beetroot and would probably never come off. 

Beauté Fever.
This lip stain is a gel formula rather than a liquid, and the technologies in play really show themselves off.  There is zero bleeding into those ageing lip lines I'm refusing to acknowledge (thanks Chanel Dragon), and it stays put.  Even after buttery things.  It doesn't dry out my lips too badly or flake off, and I want to own this forever.  No joke.  We need to sound the Holy Grail klaxon.

I bought my Beauté from Coco Beau, and it's also available over at Love Makeup (and probably other places too!)
 Have you ever tried Beauté? What's your current favourite red?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

New in for skin care - the 'mostly organic' edition.

It's been a bit of a skin care thing recently, that all started with Embryolisse.  Embryolisse is the culprit for me really getting into the whole skin care thing, and thinking there might be some weight to what people are saying in their sermonising about anti-ageing and proper ingredients that aren't cheap or derivatives of plastic.

I think I'm staging a small, and quiet (pamphlet campaign rather than a full on riot) rebellion.  My mum is stubborn, and doesn't believe in spending anything on skin care, which is why she gets a Chanel lipstick and an expensive skin care item every year for Christmas.  Actually, I'm starting to think she's kind of crafty...

Anyway - so my mum uses Nivea body cream on her face.  And never, ever uses sunscreen.

So - now you see the mini rebellion, and my new found interest in skin care.  I'm sorry mum - you're great and all - but you will never catch me smearing Nivea body cream into my face.  These four products here are some I've been enjoying for the past few weeks, my little co-conspirators in a mini skin care 'I'm not going to end up like my mother' rebellion:

1. Embryolisse Hydra-Mat Emulsion.

I've been looking for a moisturiser like this FOREVER.  I fell in love a couple of years ago with a moisturiser for oily skin from La Roche-Posay, because it was bloody good.  It was called Effaclar M, and kept me non-shiny for the whole day - until it stopped working, and then I found out the main ingredient was those pesky silicones - which aren't ideal for the main ingredient of a moisturiser.  While moving house I found a sachet of this while scrabbling madly for something to slather on, and fell in love and bought it two days later.  It performs brilliantly - keeps my oiliness at bay while hydrating my face.  It's a gel formula, lightweight and not sky-high in the smoothy-smoothy silicones I was trying to avoid.  Try this if you've got oily skin - and you can get it from Coco Beau.

2. Antipodes Hosanna Serum.*

I was invited to afternoon tea in London a few weeks back - and first of all, I need to preface this with CAKE. I'm naturally greedy, so if there's cake involved, I'll be in the front stuffing them in my pockets to take home afterwards.  Hosanna is a newly-launched serum from Antipodes, a Kiwi brand who are starting to make a bit of a splash.  It's water-based, so sinks into the skin beautifully, and has a powdery, slightly baby products sort of scent.  This is calming and soothing, and Antipodes have the science to back this up - it can stimulate the synthesis of Type I Collagen in the skin by up to 72%.  I can't claim that my skin is around 72% en-plumpened because that sort of thing is difficult to measure in my own face, but this is lovely, lightweight and has been hydrating without making me feel oily.

This contains their patented Vinanza grape (which was in their Apostle serum, reviewed here), plus mamaku black fern, which apparently is supposed to firm the skin.  I reaaaally like this.  A lot.  ThereIsaidit.

3. Antipodes Rejoice Light Daily Facial Cream.*

I love this packaging! I know that's superficial, but I love how it looks like it has come from an apothecary.  This is a great, light daily moisturiser that is full of nourishing ingredients for the skin.  I use this when my skin isn't feeling hydrated enough - such as when I've washed it twice in the morning because I went to the gym (hahaha, oh the gym) or something.  This contains avocado oil and manuka flower and smells sweet, slightly spicy and milky.  It is a thicker texture than the Embryolisse I've been double-teaming it with, and takes a little longer to sink in.

4. Organic Surge Daily Care Face Wash.*

This arrived a few weeks ago, and WE love it.  Yes, we.  Notice that? Kiwi is suddenly interested in skin care beyond gingerly applying his moisturiser with one fingertip in case he gets too much on.  This contains rose and geranium essential oils, along with aloe vera and glycerine.  Kiwi has used this everyday since it arrived, so unfortunately my bottle is looking a little empty! He loves it because it doesn't dry his skin out and has requested this be on the regular rotation (and that we phase out the Embryolisse soap-free face wash he used before).

I asked Kiwi if he had anything profound to say about the Organic Surge face wash, but he just said 'is niiiiice' in Borat accent, so I gave up.  My only down point on this is it smells like geraniums.  And roses.  Which together smell like Turkish Delight - bleeeeugh. I'm not a fan, but the product itself is lovely and the scent doesn't linger.  This is a great price at £5.19 too, so with the saving I'm making from Embryolisse, the Milky Bars are on me!

On a side note, Organic Surge have actually released a limited edition hand wash (which is here!) and are donating 100% (yep, one hundred) of the proceeds to the Archie Foundation, which is a children's charity, which is not something you see everyday!

As you can see I've been flitting around for the past month, but I've finally found a few things that I think might just stick - usually my skin care is very higgledy-piggledy and anything goes and then I complain a lot.  Which isn't happening now, because ACTUALLY my skin care rebellion is going quite well.

What are your current skin care favourites?

* PR samples.  All opinions are my own, and I'm always honest.  If you don't believe me - well... er. I can't do anything about it. So believe me.  You won't regret it!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

In which Illamasqua Generation Q is basically perfect.

The doorbell rang on Saturday morning, and I was expecting a bumper box of cat food - because that is my life now - waiting for the postman to deliver the cat food that my cats eat with very little opinion or waiting around to taste it before it's disappeared down their furry little gullets.

Actually, it wasn't even cat food.  It was a box from Illamasqua show-casing the products for their new collection, Generation Q.

I feel this was an improvement on cat food, but the cats didn't agree, particularly as they were waiting on some new toys that were coming too.  I tried to explain to them that blush is better than cat food, but Frank tried to eat my toes and Midna turned round so her bum was facing me, so I feel like our discussion was a lost cause.*

I remember fizzing with excitement when I came home from the launch campaign of Generation Q and telling you I had the warm fuzzies about Illamasqua's new, inclusive campaign that says you can wear glitter if you're 80 and still look incredible, because dreary mattes are for walls, and don't have to be on your face when you reach a certain age.

I told you then that I pretty much wanted everything.  That… hasn't gone away. At all.  Um.  We're all in danger.  Hold onto your bank accounts, screen the calls from your bank manager and hide the credit cards.  This could very well end up costing a lot.

Instead of my usual prose-laden sermon that whirls about from one subject to the next in unfeasibly long hyphenated metaphors, I'm going to let the products and photos do the talking, because this collection is beautifully seamless and doesn't need too much romanticised blahblah-ing on my part.  I'll click my own mute button for you, and just deliver the swatches for your ogle-eyed pleasure.

Precision Ink in Wisdom.

I received this way back when the collection was unveiled but got lost in a land of no internet and never got the opportunity to post about it.  I love this.  It's an antiqued gold liquid liner, packaged with a pointy felty tip thing (yep, that's exactly it - not vague at all).  When it catches the light, it's all starry and glimmery and beautiful.  It lasts all day and is perfectly opaque.  Recently I've been obsessed with pairing this with a red lip.

Intense Lipgloss in Boost.

LOL look at that expression.
I kind of feel the need to protest ever so slightly.  I don't think this is very intense - it really seems more like a cross between intense and the sheer lipgloss textures, and I did need to apply a fair amount.  It's a violet with a blue duo chrome to match the Underworld lipstick also in this collection, but actually it looks really great over Magnetism lipstick too. It's non-sticky and long-lasting and a favourite lipgloss formula.

Gleam compact highlighter in Aurora.

Illamasqua reformulated and repackaged an old product and basically made it better.  This is now Gleam, a compact highlighter, and Illamasqua have relaunched the shade as Aurora.  It's a beautiful pearlescent champagne shimmer in solid form, with no grittiness or greasiness.  It applies like a dream, and softly diffuses onto cheekbones.

Lipstick in Magnetism.

In my original post, I earmarked this for one of my picks for the collection, because scarlet-hued lips are just something I do.  This is something that made me squeeOMG when I saw it.  It's a beautiful raspberry colour, slightly muted and not too bright.  It is pigmented and creamy, and not drying at all.  I've been wearing this exclusively since it touched down, I LOVE it.

Powder blush in Sophie.

AAAAH *fangirls* I can't help it.  I'm hardwired to take an above-average enjoyment in blush.  This is just.  Just LOOK. LOOK AT IT.  Illamasqua listened when people asked for more blushes with shimmer in them, and they delivered Sophie.  It's a gilded coral - beautiful and bright and PIGMENTEDWHOA - be careful there - and and and.  I have too many things to say about this blush.  Some of them might be indecent.  It's smooth, applies effortlessly and is exactly how I expected.  Dreamy sigh.

Swatched here: Gleam compact highlighter in Aurora, powder blusher in Sophie, lipstick in Magnetism and Intense Lipgloss in Boost.
Generation Q goes on sale on September 6.

Have you got any picks from the new collection? I'm going to be needing those palettes…

* actually, this interlude of domestic bliss never happened.  But I do talk to my cats, and also make up stupid songs about them in my head.  Usually to the Spiderman theme tune.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Kittens and Tom Ford are a good combination.

What was that sound, anyway? Oh, just the sound of me sidling casually in, after a month of NOT BEING ABLE TO BLOG OMG.

We bought a house, of our very own.  Now we're poor and in a lot of debt to the bank.  We also got kittens.  What we did not get was the internet, for A MONTH. This alone may make the weaker among you hyperventilate a bit.  We did sort-of have internet access in the new home - it was just that in order to get it, you had to sit in front of the bathroom on the floor and wiggle the laptop around in mid-air until it managed to HARNESS THE POWER OF THE LOLCATS and connect to a public access WiFi hotspot.

Speaking of LOLCATS - may I present my own two little tinkers? As soon as I whipped my lightbox out today for taking some photos for the blog, they decided that they wanted to participate (seriously, who even knows of a cat who doesn't like boxes?!)  These little photobombing monsters have been keeping us very busy as of late, even though most of their day is spent asleep...

Midna - calico young lady who is getting increasingly crafty, and Frank, the brown and white tabby who sort of looks like Gizmo from Gremlins. And an owl. A cute cute owl.

So that's been my month.  Alone.  In the cold cold endless night of the land beyond the internet.  How have you all been?

Something a bit magical happened today, in parcel form.  My friend Aundrea over at Dancing with Disaster basically forced me kicking and screaming* into the world of Tom Ford lipsticks.  And candles.  Can you even COMPREHEND a more beautifulshinynew parcel of epic joy?  Probably not.

Aundrea and I did a little swap, except that she temporarily took leave of her senses and retaliated with this:

Yeah - that's right. NOT ONE BUT TWO.  Do you know what it's like to suddenly own two Tom Ford things in a row? It's like that kind of giddying running-around-with-your-shirt-over-your-head kind of thing, because they are seriously beautiful, and it was torture not being able to raspberry-smear the lipstick all over my lips while I took photos.

Neroli Portofino is zingy, wake-up kind of fresh.  Slightly soapy and citrusy and kicks you in the face a bit, and I might even need the Private Blend scent now, just to keep in a cupboard and sniff every so often. A bit like Gollum.  It's the perfect thing to sit in my (coughcough OUR) new home and burn warmly while the lights are low.  It has notes of bergamot, Sicilian lemon, mandarins and orange blossom and makes me smile.  Mmm, clean.

Cherry Lush is a boom-kapow lipstick.  It is an apologetically bright cherry red that reminds me instantly of Cherries in the Snow by Revlon, but it's a bit more  (remind me to swatch these side by side at some point - no seriously, remind me. I'm forgetful).  It's glossier and poutier and is more there-ier (yeah, I went there).  It's a moisturising shade with opaque colour and feels supple on the lips, and the packaging is kind of that luxe kind of chunky.  It kind of feels like it goes with the territory, and you'd feel a bit short-changed without its reassuring weightiness.  Oh, just get a bigger handbag or makeup bag.  Nobody uses clutches anymore anyway - because, just look:

I apologise for my slightly greasy mug, with the impending blush explosion on the cheeks and the shit hair - DON'TLOOKATME. Look at the colour of that bad boy.  One swipe, straight from the tube.  Sure, I could have used a brush, but I'm a modern** woman (isn't that how the excuse goes these days?!)

Am I megawatt super-obnoxiously happy with my first ever Tom Ford lipstick? Yes.  So many times yes on that one.

Have you ever tried anything from Tom Ford? What would you try if money weren't the awful running-out thing that it is?

* may or may not be true
** by modern, I may mean not-modern.  Or alternatively, 'lazy'.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

New in from NEOM: Inspiration and Complete Bliss (what a title)

A couple of new things from NEOM landed on my doormat recently (actually, I'm lying. A delivery man asked to be buzzed in and then he handed them to me, you know how it goes. But that ruins my metaphor). NEOM have launching a new hand cream and body cream in their Inspiration and Complete Bliss scents, and I was offered the chance to give them a try. Given how much I liked NEOM's body products (against my will, body products aren't usually my bag!) last time, I was kind of excited this time as NEOM impress me more and more with each product I try.

Inspiration by NEOM is simultaneously what I expected and not what I expected, in a funny way. It has notes of violet, chamomile and cedar wood, and when offered the choice, I jumped at this one because I LOVE violets. And because Kiwi doesn't. He truly hates them, from a perfume I lust over (Guerlain Insolence) to the Parma Violet sweets.

So anyway, before I get off-topic with how my boyfriend pulls faces when I smell like violets in his presence, I love the Inspiration fragrance blend. It's the first NEOM blend I've had true success with; I've actively disliked one, liked another (see here) and loved this one. It's sweetly, lightly floral with this warm spiciness coming through, which cuts through and stops it being too sweet. In short, it's kind of lovely.

But you can see where I'm coming from - I expected it to smell like violets, and it did. But I also expected it to kick me in the olfactories with something else, and it did.

The hand cream is actually, hand-on-heart-scouts-honour wonderful. I have eczema on my hands, so usually I have an eel's grip on things while my hands soak in greasy ointments. You can see, then, why I don't really like hand cream - because I don't like having slippery hands anymore than normal. This cream, however, is something I loved. It was thick and rich-smelling and not oily or unctuous, but sank in right away and YAY. Too long, didn't read? Basically, I was really happy with this. I probably wouldn't have dared try it otherwise as it's pretty pricey, but this one is something I'm going to use and love.

The body cream comes in a reassuringly weighty glass jar, and it's huge. Unlike the lotion I posted about last time, this is more of a thick body butter that contains almond oil and cocoa bean. The scent is there, but unobtrusive, and it feels nourishing on the skin. I prefer thicker creams to lotions, mainly because I feel like the thick texture is going to do something instead of being runny and greasy and flaily. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of body products and it takes me ages to get into slathering them on, however, so you ARE then you might love this, because the quality is reassuring and the scent is subtle and expert.

As a side note, Fee from Makeup Savvy reported that Harper's Bazaar will be having these very hand creams as freebies with their August edition - and seeing as they retail at £20, it sounds like something you shouldn't miss if you want a chance to try them out!

* PR Samples.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Deliver Shimmer - Illamasqua Generation Q Launch.

It's not unusual (ooh, hello Tom Jones, how did you get in here?!) for an Illamasqua launch to evoke a story or ethos behind the thinking, like a breadcrumb trail of the thought processes that went into the colour selections and textures and how it all came to be. This collection was slightly different, in that it came with a mission for us, as stated by David Horne:

'Deliver shimmer.'

It probably doesn't make much sense out of context. But then, neither does shimmer on mature skins, or glittery black nail polish on a septuagenarian, according to the usual makeup counter context, who recommend people of older ages 'play it safe' after reaching what is termed as a 'certain age'.

Recently, Illamasqua launched their Beauty before Age campaign, as a reminder that everyone of all ages can and should wear makeup, that black eyeliner isn't just for young girls and matte eyeshadow only for the older generations. Their aim was to throw a big one-fingered salute in the face of social thought, the makeup counters with fussy women telling you that you can't wear purple eyeshadow when you're 80, and the thought that when it comes down to it, you're as young as you feel.

Generation Q, then, will launch in September, and is for you, your mum and her mum - and anyone else that might want to join in (personally I can't see my dad in purple lipgloss, but if yours would then more power to him!) It isn't the typical collection from Illamasqua in that there's the usual selection of brights, but it's less raucous than usual - so for those of you who aren't so keen on the weird and wonderful colours Illamasqua releases - this is your moment. In fact, it's a beautiful selection of well-considered colours, hues for every age, skin and esprit de vivre - corals, dusty brick reds, purples, a rainbow beige (you'll know when you see it).


At the launch, we were privileged enough to meet Evelyn, a seventy-something-and-proud-of-it and the face of the new campaign. She was proudly sporting some bright magenta lipstick and black glittery nail polish and *gasp* shimmer, and she talked to us about what the campaign meant to her. Illamasqua's new collection is emotive and thought through, just a riot of colour for all generations and sexes and proof that beauty doesn't need to involve a blue rinse and minimal makeup once you hit a certain age - and for that, I loved this launch.

My personal picks for the collection? I'd actually wear it all. You'll probably never hear me say that again. However - under the premise of helping you out for when September the 6th comes…

Shown here: Complement palette, Boost and Opulent lipglosses.
Sophie blush - Illamasqua have brought out another shimmer blush, and this one is a beautiful bright coral. It's soft and rich and very high on my list.  

Magnetism lipstick - a rich, opulent deep raspberry red. I can't wait to get this one!  

Creator nail polish - a jet black shot through with shimmering gold. I loved this and the way it was executed. So simple, yet so well done.  

Wisdom Precision Ink - an antiqued gold liquid eyeliner. It twinkles and is basically gorgeous, and wears FOREVER. This was still on when I went to take a shower about 20 hours after I'd applied to my wrist. I'll be posting a review/look/THING of this soon, and it's really hard to capture how pretty this is, seeing as I took about 200 shots.

Shown here: Empower palette, Magnetism and Underworld lipsticks.
Aurora cream highlighter, Sophie blush and Allure blush.
There are also two fantastic-looking palettes being released with this collection, one called Complement and one called Empower, which feature new Liquid Metals and Pure Pigments that have been pressed into a pan. There's two lip glosses - one bright fuchsia, and one… rainbow beige, which looks nothingy until you suddenly catch sight of the way in which it twinkles and transforms over different colours. There's a reformulated highlighter in a compact, and basically, it's all flawlessly done.

I got the feeling from this launch that Illamasqua's team genuinely couldn't wait any longer to release the news of their new collection, which doesn't launch until September. They were positively gleeful and grinning with pride at the launch and it was kind of infectious. The launch and new collection gave me that warm feeling in the pit of my belly from start to finish - it was a beautiful launch and this is going to be an amazing collection.  As a final thought, and not to sound too pretentious - the whole collection reminded me of this poem I read when I was still in school:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.

- Jenny Joseph.

I think that poem about sums it up.

What do you think of what you've seen so far? Tantalised yet?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

JolieBox June - Anniversary edition!

Despite myself, and swearing off beauty boxes for good, I was pretty impressed with this month's JolieBox offering. JolieBox are trialling their new customisation, which has been something other boxes have offered in the past (Carmine), and that some boxes said they'd offer and made you fill out a questionnaire, but then sent you random unequal samples that were unsuitable (guess who?! You have three guesses and the first two don't count).

It feels a bit weird to be reviewing a beauty box, to be honest. I unsubscribed from all of them, and was pretty unimpressed with their product selection, repeated brands and customer service. In the past few months they've definitely been a persona non grata on this blog, and I even took to Twitter to bemoan the boring monthly deluge on the blogs, where there's the predictable beauty box review each month.  That's not a comment on the bloggers doing them, by the way. The beauty box brands need to mix it up a bit.
I was kind of surprised to be asked to review a beauty box on this blog, since my many and various rantings and disavowal of all things monthly and box-shaped (oh, apart from periods, since I can't avoid those buggers) have often meant that beauty boxes don't er... seem to like me (what can I say, I speak my mind).  I accepted, however, on the basis of curiosity, for one.  And to see how this customisation thing panned out.

Actually, I found JolieBox's packaging to be ridiculously cute, and it was designed by Mzelle Fraise.  It was a pleasant surprise - and it sounds shallow to praise the packaging, but I thought it was sweet and lovely.

The products, then:

Yon-Ka Crème Protectrice Vitalisante in Pamplemousse.

This was the customised product, and weighs in at 50ml.  I have oily skin so I opted for this one, and I actually really like this (colour me surprised on this one, I'm snooty about moisturiser).  It's hydrating and sinks in fairly quickly, making a nice base for makeup, however it does deliver a huge whack on the scent - which depends on whether you like grapefruit or not.  Pleasantly surprised.

L'Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream.

Um... two moisturisers? I feel like the balance in this box is off.  It's a decent-sized sample of 15ml, and is hydrating without being greasy - but I prefer the other cream and feel like another skin care product could have been included (toner/serum/whatever) which wouldn't have given the box that hint of déjà-vu.

Institut Esthederm UV inCellium Spray.

I'm nonplussed by this.  It's fine if you want a tan, I guess.  It's a product which is supposed to increase/enhance the skin's protection against the sun (although you still need a good sun cream). I'm not a person who actually goes in the sun, though - and the size leaves me feeling like I wouldn't see the benefit of it because I wouldn't get many uses.

Elysambre lipstick.

This is a natural brand and not one I'd heard of.  I LOVE this lipstick, however, I'm wary.  I know some people got a heinous gilded beige colour reminiscent of that dark part of the 90's and shoulder-pads, so it's all to do with the luck of the draw.  Mine is pigmented and a lovely dark berry colour and I actually cooed and put it on straight away.

JolieBox nail file.

What...I kind of stared at this and shrugged a bit. It's like a cheap throw-in for me.  I mean, I can use it, but there's nothing exciting about it, at all.  I can take or leave it given I really enjoyed (most of) the products, however.


For my first beauty box in MONTHS, I'm subtly impressed. I think though, on balance, I like the box/packaging more than the actual contents.  I do applaud JolieBox's attempts to customise (yaaay!), although the balance of the box was off, especially with 2 moisturisers and 3 skin care products in total.  I feel like the makeup included was a bit 'luck of the draw' too, so you could end up with something heinous.  Overall, though - for the first box in a very long time, I quite liked it.

Would I resubscribe? Hmm. Still musing on that.

If you want to try out the birthday box, JolieBox have left their subscriptions open here until the end of this week.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Essie polishes, a mariner's trio.

A couple of weekends ago I was haunting the cosmetic stands of Boots, and ended up with a £50 bill, because that's what a new razor, new toothbrush heads, new tweezers and everything else that could either run out or go missing at the same time could cost. Oof.  I did, however, manage to earn some points, and allowed myself to spend a frankly insane amount of my store points on some Essie polishes.

L-R: Mesmerized, Lapiz of Luxury and Turquoise and Caicos.

It's like they're free, right?

Everyday for the past two months, I've been eating my morning breakfast overlooking the sea, which is (and not to sound smug) friggin' awesome.  Even if the English seas are not the most salubrious of waters, and look positively murky, not to mention the condom wrappers on the beach - there's still something romantic about living right on the beach, and the amazing walks along it I've been having (mostly accompanied by a little stop-off for a beer).

There's something a little oceanic about the three Essie polishes I picked and they sort of blend from one to the next like the prettiest of blue-tinged segues (let us not confuse segue, with Segway, the small motorised upward, um, thing, that George Bush famously fell off of).

I am not very good at photographing swatches, or my own hands in them. Sorry about my piggy fingers :)

Mesmerized is a beautiful royal blue, so pretty and bright, and not a colour I would ever pick in a million years.  Since we've started the (long) process of buying a house, however, I seem to be gravitating towards these kinds of classic primary colours for décor - red, blue and yellow - and I don't know why.  Kiwi picked this one out for me, and he did good.

Lapis of Luxury is a colour I've wanted forever.  Ever since I picked up Splash of Grenadine in New York a few years ago, I wished I'd gotten this one too.  It's the prettiest pale periwinkle, so sweet, and there's something sort of sailboaty about it, but I don't know why.

Turquoise and Caicos
spoke to me.  Kiwi hates turquoise and deems it in the midst of a terrifying existential crisis (Is it blue?! Is it green?! NO IT'S NEITHER, EXISTENTIAL CRISIS), so something about this (rebellion?) made me swoop on this.  Or it could have just been that summer feeling.  Whatever.  If you ever want an Essie polish to avoid, take my advice. This is the WORST Essie polish I have ever used.  This picture took 4 thick, streaky coats, and then I sat there afraid to move or do anything for fear of smudging the multi-layer paint job.  Such a shame, although I hear earlier versions of this were perfect, creamy 2-coat formulas, so I guess I got unlucky.

Oceanic blues are definitely suiting my mood over shouty corals and neon brights, there's something just lovely and sleepy about them which suits my mood, and the sea breeze blowing my skirt up at every opportunity. 

What's going to be on your fingers and toes this summer?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The shopping edit: June.

Perhaps it's the whole capsule collection idea that prompted such a short shopping list this month, where instead of my usual squeezing the most out of my 600x600 pixel square in order to show you the things I'm currently making googly eyes at, I'm faced with a surfeit of white space.  It feels weird, because I just don't really want anything - well, apart from these five things.  And a blush from Illamasqua Naked Strangers called Naked Rose (which I now have and LOVE FOREVER OMG OMG GUYS YOU NEED IT).

So anyway, this shopping list is kind of not in my usual style, like I've polluted myself with my own self-righteous use-more-shop-less propaganda.  I have to admit, though - it did work. I am buying less - and more to the point, I'm wanting to buy less.  It's a bit of a weird feeling.  I may need a lie-down.

Untitled Document

As usual, each image will take you to the product's website with no affiliate links or crap like that because I'm not a sneaky linkerer. 

1. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum.

I haven't smelled this, but something in me wants it - I don't know if it's the bottle or what but it just looks so sweet. I ordered a little sample, but I'm hearing good things about this, and that it's similar to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Maybe. I have a feeling this will be a lovely little thing of a perfume.

2. Laura Mercier Metallic Creme Eye Colour in Alloy.

I'm in the early stages of a relationship with Laura Mercier, and this would definitely be the next step for us. This is a gorgeous metallic taupe cream eyeshadow and is basically gorgeous on a plate (with a side serving of either cream or gravy, depending on which course you're on. Not both, you sick thing). Realistically, I probably don't need this thing, but I need to make up for the fact that the Caviar Stick in Amethyst and I don't get along, mainly because it's too warm for me and makes me look diseased. This would more than make up.

3. Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst-Quenching Serum.

I keep hearing amazing things about this and will be grabbing a sample tube this month to see if it lives up to the hype. I'm a huge fan of Caudalie skin care as it has always delivered great results for me. My skin typically tends to be oily and dehydrated, so I'm looking forward to seeing if this is going to walk the walk.  I found a little samples page at Zuneta here, where you can order a maximum of three (different) samples for free, as long as you pay shipping, so that's exactly what I did.

4. Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Fever.

Actually I already bought this, so this is sort of a lie. In a pinch, this would make an amazing Halloween fake blood product. An expensive fake blood product.  Other than that, this. is. THE SHIT. This is easily the bestest, most reddest of the red Snow-White-gone-vamp stain and it is incredible.  I say that about a lot of things, but seriously, this is something you must own. You'll see why in my excitable OMG post coming up about how much you want this. Because you do.

5. Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm.

I finished a friggin' lip balm. A whole one. I have never, ever finished a lip balm in my entire life, due to various reasons.  Usually I lose the lip balm somewhere, or it smells funky. Or I hate it and throw it away, and I never usually use lip balms anyway.  This is sort of a reward. Yes, I know, for finishing a lip balm. Weirdly, since I've started to use balm regularly, my lips have more dry and sore than before. If I didn't need it before, I do now! This is supposed to be the stuff of miracles. Can't wait.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Antipodes. Kiwi skincare (that contains actual kiwis).

I find it kind of amusing that my blog is so full of the phrase 'kiwi' and here I am actually, finally dealing with it by talking about a Kiwi brand.  My boyfriend is called Kiwi, I have a Kiwi family member who is just quietly awesome and I adored the TV series Flight of the Conchords.  The stage is set for me liking the Kiwi thing.

In April, I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger event hosted by the New Zealand skincare brand Antipodes, a brand which I had limited contact with or knowledge about, but a brand I can get behind, with a strong ethos based in scientifically-researched, certified organic or natural products which are designed to give the skin a whack of what it needs without playing Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Paraben.

The purpose for the tête-à-tête was to launch two new products into the UK market, a cleanser called Juliet, and a serum called Apostle.  Having spoken to a friend called Jade, who is across the pond and then some in Australia, Antipodes is a popular brand down-under, so I was curious to know how it had flown so long under my radar.

Juliet is a skin-brightening gel cleanser that sort of smells like green apples (not sure why they are specifically the green kind, but it smells like green ones).  I've found this to be a pleasant cleanser to use - it never dries out my skin or hurts when it gets in my eyes.  Skin-brightening? Questionable. I haven't seen anything dramatic from it - it's also supposed to balance oil, but I haven't noticed anything to that effect.  I do, however, love this product for the purposes of double cleansing - but I don't think it'd get full makeup off very effectively.

Apostle is a certified organic water-based serum that feels really nice on the skin, and sinks in really quickly with no residual stickiness or sliminess.  The idea behind it is that it contains Vinanza Performance Plus, which is some kind of magical voodoo ingredient derived from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, a powerful antioxidant. It's designed to brighten the skin and make it glowy, while hydrating and not making it sticky.  While the texture and colour are a bit suspect, I think this is a pleasant product to use, but there has been no noticeable change to my skin.  I was kind of disappointed, since the reviews of this have been so good, but nothing, zip, zilch, nada.  I have generally good skin though, so I don't usually see dramatic results from skin care.

I was also given the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream to try, and it doesn't smell a bit like vanilla.  In fact, it sort of smells like Christmas, spicy and sweet.  It's a thick, luxurious cream in an apothecary-style jar, and it's a fantastic moisturiser.  I think this will work amazingly for my chapped wind-whipped skin in the winter, although it's a little too hydrating for now.  If you've got dry skin, this will be a fabulous day cream as it contains shea butter and manuka honey, though it might be too rich for oilier skins.

In short, I was pretty impressed with my foray into a more organic and natural style of skin care, but although the products are lovely, the claims they make were a bit too close-but-no-cigar for my personal skin type and needs.  If you want to check them out for a bit of natural beauty, click here for their website.

Do you dig the natural/organic products revolution, or are you still cool with parabens?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Beauty 5: 5 best new discoveries.

I'm about to resurrect an old post series I used to do when I was but a nipper at this blogging game, and I haven't done a little post in an embarrassing amount of time.  So, here we go with something you probably haven't seen before, a Beauty 5 post.  Today's topic is my 5 best new product discoveries, the A+ good-job sticker students who make my daily routine a little easier and prettier, and whose end of term reports are bringing in top of the class grades (stop. with. the. metaphor.)

1. Alpha-H Liquid Gold.

Um. I have basically used this 6 times and am committed to the movement.  This stuff is like genius in a bottle.  Now - if you didn't get it by now, I have what is known as smugly-generally-good-skin. It is a terrible affliction whereby I don't often get spots, my skin tone is mostly even and generally there's nothing wrong with it.  I'm firmly in the camp of 'can't complain', because I can't, even with my eczema flare-ups.  The point is, that when I try a new skincare product I very rarely see a huge difference in my skin.  Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair does sweet FA for me - and believe me, I wanted to rave.  However, THIS. STUFF.  I have been skipping foundation and going for tinted moisturiser.  My skin has been bright and glowy and exuding loveliness.  BUY THIS.

2. NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base.

Oh, you. Where have you been all my life?! As a staunch opponent of the Urban Decay Primer Potion movement because I hate the way it feels greasy (and people keep telling me I'm using it wrong and that's why I hate it - NO. I actually just hate it), I have been waiting for a little excuse to purchase this baby.  And then I finally did, and there was much rejoicing.  It locks down my eyeshadow all day, stops it creasing and fading and doesn't feel oily on my eyelids. Marvellous.

3. Illamasqua Powder Blusher in Nymph.

This is that kind of healthy vitamin advert girl blush, the type which features just the prettiest, healthiest, glowiest looking girl ever with sweetly flushed cheeks and that kind of serene getting-my-vitamin-c smile.  I'd never tried a matte Illamasqua blush before this one - the first Illamasqua blush I ever owned was Morale which was, funnily enough, one of their first ever shimmer blushes.  Nymph is this gorgeous fresh warm-toned candy pink and you only need the tiniest bit.  It's so beautiful for Spring and goes all day and then some.

4. YSL Glossy Stain (Vernis à Levres) in 5, Rouge Vintage.

Be still, my beating heart.  Even though this applies a bit patchily on me (and I am only now getting the knack), I just adore the sweet muted raspberry red of Rouge Vintage (left).  It's a beautiful glossy shine which wears brilliantly and looks beautiful throughout the day.  It might be a little bright for some, but this is firmly my 'daytime' red.

5. Louise Young LY24B Eyeliner Brush.*

This is just the tiniest eyeliner brush I have ever seen.  No other eyeliner brush compares to those made by Louise Young, and this is the latest brush, following on from both the bigger sisters of the LY24 (my first love!) and the LY24A (the one I cheated on my first love with).  It's teeny tiny and works so so amazingly for detail and precision, and the quality is, as always, superb.  I think I might even like this more than the LY24A, I just can't help it, I'm a fickle lady.

What's your best new 'discovery' recently?

* PR sample.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Illamasqua Naked Strangers.

This post is a little and/or long overdue. Please delete where appropriate, or if you're one of those people and need to be different, then circle the correct answer instead.  Anyway, so I've kind of been lost in thesis land, writing the most astoundingly amazing PhD thesis ever, a thesis so brilliant that every single academic upon reading will pause, forks poised to their mouths, dumbfounded by its brilliance.

Einstein will call me from beyond the grave to congratulate me on my contribution of sheer genius to the world, because they will have figured out how to do reanimate dead geniuses by the time my thesis is done (6 months' time)...

Actually, I've been banging my head against a wall trying to bang some intelligence out of hiding, having hysterical crying fits, dreaming about kittens and trying not to procrastinate, followed by panicking madly and exhausting myself, but managing to write 20,000 words in about 4 days.

Sometime in all that madness, a couple of samples of Illamasqua's newest summer capsule collection arrived at my house and I was powerless to do anything about it, and now I feel I owe it a post.

Intense Lipgloss in Stranger, and nail polish in Faithful.
The full collection launched online on Thursday of this week, with two blushes (of which I've already ordered one because I couldn't help myself), three nail polishes, an Intense Lipgloss and a Sheer lipgloss.  The quality, as with all Illamasqua launches, is incredibly high, and the products are a bit of a lovely visual treat.  I received one nail polish and an Intense Lipgloss to try, and you'd better believe it when they say 'intense'.

Told you it was intense! Intense Lipgloss in Stranger
The Intense Lipgloss in Stranger is a shimmery platinum gold colour, and it makes me look like C3PO if I apply it straight.  However, it's wonderfully pigmented and neither gritty, nor sticky (a huge feat!) and I can see it really shining lightly applied over a bright coral like Vegas Volt from MAC.  For everyday wear - well I'm not sold for myself - but if you can pull it off, you're a braver person than I.  Loving the new packaging on the glosses, though - it looks sleek and lovely.

Nail polish in Faithful - in normal light and then in sunlight.
The nail polish in Faithful kind of reminds me of a beetle, or something, it has this bronze flash of colour in the light, but morphs into a medium warm brown out of it.  It's all quite subtle until that bronzey glint.  It's a gorgeous shade which doesn't suit me very well, but I can see it selling well with the beautiful bronze sheen for summer and the flawless formula of Illamasqua polishes.

I think it's funny how this Illamasqua collection played out, in the end - because even when doing neutrals and nudes (and strangers being naked), they still manage to have a little twist on the sheer glosses and sheer colours and throw a wildcard into the mix.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cultivating the Capsule Collection.

Everything these days seems to be more fashionable when it's smaller.  Dogs, handbags, phones, wardrobes.  Everything is bite-sized, tiny, swallowable without even needing a glass of water, even knickers are getting smaller (sorry, Bridget Jones).   Stylists wax lyrical about this fabled 'capsule collection', the only clothes you'll ever need in your wardrobe, the LBD, the tailored suit, the pencil skirt.

It's kind of what I've been trying to do with my makeup collection recently.  I've been feeling this drowning feeling of too much: too much spending, too much excess, too much stuff.  I've been hankering after something easy-to-swallow, a few beautiful LBD makeup products I love and use regularly, which don't sit and gather dust like beautifully-coloured biohazards as the years of not using them wear on.

I'm not a good hoarder.  Well, I'll have to explain.  My level of hoarding is sort of what you'd call 'casual', I guess.  I mean, I'm excellent at accumulating 'things' and 'stuff', and for a while after, they glint proudly amid the rest of my makeup and the purchase is quietly justified.  They then stay there for around 6 months until I suddenly can't take it anymore and feel the need to get rid of them again. 

So, you see what I mean by the fact that I'm not very good at hoarding things: there comes this stage where I am no longer able to tolerate hoarding it for any longer.  And then as quickly as I have made space in my makeup collection, I fill it up again and casually hoard it for a bit.  After a long period of moving stuff around, having spectacular blog sales and just genuinely NOT buying anything from MAC anymore, I'm going to share a few of my well-intentioned tips for those of you who hanker for the makeup capsule collection:*

1. Use shit up. Seriously.

If you've bought something, try to use it the hell up before buying something that's exactly the same in a different scent/ever-so-slightly blink and you'll miss it shade of blue.  If you don't, you end up like me - swimming in bottles of body lotion I can't control.  Shower gel? I've got enough for two apocalypses, and for the horsemen too.  And if those horsemen are in need of a little primping and preening, I've definitely got a foundation for each of their skin types.

2. Don't be afraid to throw stuff away.

If you're as stubborn as I am and refuse to throw your hard-earned dolla in the bin in the form of a product you hate and decide to force yourself into a self-flagellating beauty penance for spending your money on something you bought for the sake of it and didn't need, then don't be afraid to throw the crap you hate in the bin.  This describes me down to a T, unfortunately.  When I buy something I end up hating, I usually try to force myself to use it up - but sometimes, a products is, unfortunately, irredeemably shit.  Bin it.

3. Stop buying back-ups.

Unless you're going to run out of something very soon (cleanser, moisturiser, lip balm), stop the hell buying back-ups. The hell. The reality is you don't need a back-up of a limited edition blush - because by the time you've even used half of it (at least by MAC's standards...), the colour will have either been repromoted, your affection for it will have waned, or you'll have found a better one elsewhere.  Limited edition does crazy things to the mind sometimes - but all I have to say is, watch this clip on Extreme Couponing:

You see those people going crazy over mega-deals on bleach and toilet roll? Yep. Nip it in the bud.  I am guilty of having had a HUGE stash of back-ups which I slowly got rid of - because I've had my Azalea Blossom Blush Ombre from MAC for a couple of years now (having bought 3 back-ups) and I've still not hit pan.  It may make sense to take no prisoners on the day, but I can say hand on heart, from one seasoned back-upper to another, you don't need 4 of the same blush.

4. Blog sale.

You know how hard it is to let go of that super-duper mega limited edition blush that you have with the special glittery Disney packaging and gold dust overlay? Well - do you use it? Exactly.  A lot of the time I've been hoarding makeup, I've been struggling to justify letting go of particular items for the only fact that I sharpened my elbows and employed some serious stealth refreshing-the-MAC-website-every-10-seconds to be able to get a hold of them. Even if they were a horrible colour (Candy Yum-Yum lipstick was a neon pink disaster).  And the thing is that I basically didn't use half the stuff I got - but kept onto it because everyone else wanted it, so I felt I should.  When I'm really being stubborn and sticky-fingered with a product I just never use, I have a strategy: put the product into a box of products destined for a blog sale.  After a week or two, I revisit.  If I genuinely haven't missed it (80% of the time), it stays in. If I mooned about it for 2 weeks, I take it out and replace it in my makeup collection.

5.  Swatch everything together.

Realistically, how many shades of pink blush do you need? I swatched every single one of my pink blushes together one day and found out a couple of things.  Number one, I'm a MAGPIE for a cool pastel pink. Number two, all of my blushes were basically the same colour.  I had so many that I genuinely had no idea I... had so many.  After that, it became easy to weed out the ones I didn't care so much for.

* Please note, those of you who are hardened, elbows-sharpened collectors should probably skip this post, because LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

 Nowadays I just try to only buy stuff I LOVE, not just like a bit. Have you got any other tips? If you want a few more, Stacey's post over here will give you a little scope!

Friday, 4 May 2012

NEOM Sensuous.

I've started this thing of trying to use body lotion. It's been a long and slippery process, usually involving me wandering around my house in my underwear doing a John Wayne walk while I wait for the stuff to sink in, but we're getting there.  I'm at least remembering to do this ritual about 3 times a week and enjoying that extra softness - Kiwi's even told me my elbows are getting softer.

I'm never going to wax lyrical about body products in general because I'm all about the lipstick on this blog, however these new body releases from NEOM did catch my eye recently - if not least for the sleek, fancy-looking bottles which contrast starkly with my very ordinary bathroom suite.

NEOM's Sensuous scent is actually very pleasant and although I was far from a fan of the first scented NEOM product I tried, this one is by far an improvement in my book! I actually usually go for sweeter, fruitier scents in the bathroom - I love to create this kind of candy-fruity fug as I emerge from my day's ablutions - so this is very different to my usual tastes. 

It has notes of patchouli, ylang ylang and frankincense and has a soft powdery spicy note about it, but also a flip-side of clean.  I LOVE things that smell like clean (Philosophy Pure Grace perfume, laundry, most kinds of soap, the bathroom spray we just bought from Tesco...), so this is a hit with me, and it's not overly feminine either.  The scent in the body wash* creates a wonderfully perfumed fug in the shower, almost like that famed Radox effect from their adverts from the late 90's, but this is kind of the real deal - it's more subtle and lasts longer.

The Sensuous Organic Body Lotion* is a milky body lotion which sinks in instantly (which I like, I hate feeling greasy!) and contains shea butter, macadamia nut and rosemary to soften up the skin.  It feels richly, thickly moisturising and continues to deliver throughout the day.  I found the scent lingered quite a while on this one, which some may love for a light and lovely perfume, but it's not too strong for those that don't.

Both products boast an impressive mixture of both natural and organic ingredients and are formulated without parabens or other nasties.  The Body Wash is priced at £18, and the Body Lotion at £25 - and looking at them now I reckon they are a little expensive for my usual buy-one-get-one-free tastes, but the quality of the products has me wavering from my £1 shower gel, just the tiniest bit.

Are there any must-have body products for you right now? 

What would you recommend to a person like me who isn't so good at using them?

*PR SAMPLES. I am always honest and all opinions are my own!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

5 reasons I hate MAC right NOW.

MAC was the first red lipstick I ever bought, and the first red lipstick that then subsequently went into a blog sale, it was the place where I could spend hours just looking at the confusion of colour and spend hours just choosing one item.  MAC was this whole new shiny world where there were limitless choices and combinations of things and it was like a drug which held me in this colourful universe for years. 

I've been moving away from MAC recently, however, and you're gonna have to bear with me because I'm on a bit of a rampage with this one.  Here's five reasons why I'm less than amused at the Estée Lauder company's cosmetic powerhouse:

1. Animal testing in China.

Word reached my ears recently about MAC and their position in China under parent company Estée Lauder, and how their position to animal testing has been revised due to this move.  China requires animal testing by law, so although MAC has understandably wanted to conquer the huge, cash cow of the Chinese market, they have been forced to resume animal testing.  It's important to stress that the animal testing policy for MAC in other countries will remain as is - untested on animals - but just because we can't see China doesn't mean it isn't happening.  If true, this is a huge backwards step for MAC, and a huge embarrassment.

2. Eleventy billion collections.

I actually can't remember the last time I bought from a MAC collection.  Occasionally I'll peruse the core line if I've run out of something I use all the time, but I actually used to get excited about the new upcoming collections. I'd excitedly go on the Specktra forums and write long long lists and arrive at the counter on launch day ready to spend and take no prisoners.  Do you know why I was so excited for new MAC collections back in the day? It was because I actually had to WAIT for them.  Not just a week, either. A month, two months. Even more.  The anticipation was excruciating.  MAC's current policy seems to be a free-for-all with a new collection each week of crappy, badly-formulated products - a continual parade of mediocrity.

3. Limited edition, but not quite.

The thing about MAC is hype.  You remember Lightscapade? It only got repromoted a couple of months ago and then… oh! Look up there, a flying pig! While you were distracted MAC's creative team ran out of ideas and slid the very same product into the next collection and asked you kindly to look the other way.  I mean, come on! It's Lightscapade - an MSF so legendary you barely even dare speak its name. The continual repromoting of things that used to be hotly-anticipated big-ticket items for the year - and everyone would be clutching at their debit cards anxiously waiting to input their data and sell their soul the second it came online - well, that's gone. MAC have gotten greedy.

4. What customer service?

I often go by a general rule of thumb when shopping at MAC: if you want acceptable service, just avoid the MAC counter at Selfridges in London. If you want great service, avoid MAC altogether.  There are obviously a few exceptions to this rule - such as the lovely ladies I know who work at MAC, and the whole of the counter at Brighton - but one of the main things that puts me off working at MAC are the staff.

Some of them seem to put their makeup on in the dark.  Put their counter in the window of the store and it's like they are vampires revealed in the light: orange foundation, unblended contours and eyebrows painted on.  I'm not saying this is true for every MAC artist, of course, but some of them definitely would scare the innocent cosmetic-buying consumer.

There are a couple of types of customer service at MAC, but the one that seems the most widespread is the type seen in Selfridges London (see, I mentioned Selfridges for a reason).  The MAC counter staff gather in packs of laughing hyenas, congregating in groups of 8 strong chatting and if you dare ask for help, you'll get one of two reactions.  The first is that they'll palm you off on someone else who isn't earning money by chatting, and the second is that they'll actually help you - in the most grudging, rude manner possible.

No thanks.  I'd rather shop elsewhere.

5. Are they really even that good?

The conclusion I'm beginning to draw from conspicuously NOT shopping at MAC is that there's stuff elsewhere which, if not equal, is just BETTER. Illamasqua, Becca, Laura Mercier and NARS do it better, consistently, with better products which aren't hastily pasted-together launches which either offend (Rodarte) or lack any kind of spark (most of the other collections last year).  I'm getting to that point where I don't really care if something is limited edition or not anymore - I'm more interested in whether the product performs.  I don't need another glitterbomb Mineralize Skinfinish which migrates to my chin and eyebrows, I want a blush which stays on all day and stays wherever the hell I put it (even if that IS on my chin and eyebrows).

Sometimes I just get this kind of bee in my bonnet and I'm unable to stop the inevitable tirade of vitriolic spouting you're seeing here.  I'm kind of feeling like the sparkly blindfold of MAC and it's limited edition collections has lifted though.  I'll still buy from MAC as one of those kind of 'eh, whatever' consumers, but that flutter of excitement has long gone.

How do you feel about MAC right now? Good? Bad? Indifferent?


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